Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson
27-Year-Old PitcherRP
Boston Red Sox
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Injuries paved the way for Johnson to make five starts with the Red Sox last season, but he spent most of the season in the rotation at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he carried a 3.09 ERA despite a modest 7.0 K/9. Out of minor league options, the Red Sox revealed in November that they plan on making him a reliever in 2018, where he could be particular effective is a lefty specialist. A first-round pick out of Florida in 2012, the 27-year-old has been very hittable as a starter in his limited chances to fill in as a member of the Boston rotation (career 4.88 ERA, 1.50 WHIP in six starts), thanks to his lack of an out pitch despite his ability to mix four different offerings. Unless he ends up in a situation where he can take the ball every fifth day in a pitcher-friendly environment in 2018, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Johnson's role as a reliever places him on the fantasy radar. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a contract with the Red Sox in June of 2012 that includes a $1.58 million signing bonus.
Eats up innings in relief
PBoston Red Sox
September 15, 2018
Johnson allowed one run on two hits and one walk while striking out four over 4.2 innings in Friday's 8-0 loss to the Mets.
Hector Velazquez was the scheduled starter but was scratched due to illness, so the Red Sox needed their bullpen arms. Johnson, who had previously made 12 starts this season before moving back to a relief role earlier this month, performed well after entering the contest with one out in the third inning. He induced a double-play grounder to get the Red Sox out of a jam, then ate some innings effectively during the blowout loss. This was the longest relief stint of Johnson's career, and the lefty has seemed to find his niche in the bullpen. Over his 14 relief outings, Johnson has produced a 1.99 ERA.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
No Stats
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .218 120 30 10 24 5 1 3
Since 2016vs Right .289 408 75 30 109 22 1 17
2018vs Left .227 107 27 10 22 5 1 3
2018vs Right .285 300 57 22 79 14 1 12
2017vs Left .154 13 3 0 2 0 0 0
2017vs Right .300 108 18 8 30 8 0 5
2016vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2016vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
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Since 2016Home 3.99 1.30 78.0 3 1 0 8.0 2.6 1.4
Since 2016Away 4.79 1.69 41.1 3 3 0 7.6 3.7 1.7
2018Home 4.37 1.31 59.2 2 1 0 8.4 2.9 1.5
2018Away 4.01 1.63 33.2 2 3 0 7.5 3.5 1.3
2017Home 2.79 1.29 19.1 1 0 0 6.5 1.9 0.9
2017Away 8.22 1.96 7.2 1 0 0 8.2 4.7 3.5
2016Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2016Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Stat Review
How does Brian Johnson compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
88.5 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Johnson's story took a couple of turns in 2016. The left-hander had rocketed through the system, even making a start for Boston in 2015, before an elbow injury ended that season. Seemingly cast as a potential depth starter for 2016, Johnson suffered a toe injury during training camp and was on a pitch count early on for Triple-A Pawtucket. Noted for his pinpoint control, Johnson was wild to start the season, giving up 22 walks in 33 innings before getting placed on the temporary inactive list in May while he sought treatment for anxiety, a condition that had been building since 2015. The organization and his teammates were supportive as Johnson worked through the anxiety issues, and he eventually returned to Pawtucket in late July. He was better following his return, but it was still a lost year for him. He'll return to start for Pawtucket, but the team is placing no expectations on him. After this offseason's upgrades to the rotation, Johnson now looks like simply a depth piece.
Johnson made his major-league debut in 2015, getting a late-July start for Boston and he looked poised to get more starts over the final two months of the season as the Red Sox’s postseason chances headed south, but an elbow injury put a hold on those plans. Hearing the words “elbow injury” was certainly scary for the young left-hander, who didn’t experience structural damage and was able to avoid surgery. He started playing catch in October and is expected to have a normal offseason training regimen. Prior to the second-half drama, Johnson had been Triple-A Pawtucket’s best and most consistent starter. While not overpowering, Johnson has four pitches, he controls all of them, and he has a good feel for pitch-sequencing. Because he was shut down, Johnson is behind fellow young lefties Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, who each got multiple starts in the majors. Those two will be candidates for Boston’s starting rotation coming out of spring training while Johnson is likely to start the year back at Pawtucket.
No Red Sox prospect increased his value more in 2014 than Johnson. The left-handed starter has become one of the top-ranked prospects in the Red Sox's minor-league system. He used his four-pitch arsenal with great effectiveness early on at High-A Salem and later at Double-A Portland. He was so good, equally effective against righties and lefties, the Red Sox promoted him late in the season to Triple-A Pawtucket, for whom he started in the Triple-A playoffs. His fastball is a pedestrian 88-92 mph, so his ceiling is limited to that of a mid-rotation starter, but he's in control of his offerings and mixes his pitches well. Johnson will open the season with Triple-A Pawtucket and it wouldn't be surprising to see him get a look in Boston later in the season.
Johnson, 23, didn't benefit from a normal offseason training program because he was recovering from multiple orbital fractures that ended his 2012 season prematurely. As such, he struggled early on in 2013, allowing 17 earned runs on 36 hits and 17 walks in 38.2 innings before shoulder tendinitis sent him to the disabled list. Upon his return, Johnson was a different pitcher. He permitted five runs over 31 innings, surrendering 14 hits while striking out 30, and earned a promotion to High-A Salem. Johnson has a four-pitch mix and knows how to pitch. He should advance pretty quickly to the upper levels.
Johnson, a first-round draft pick in 2012, is a well-filled out left-hander who possesses an advanced feel for pitching. His 2012 season was cut short when he suffered some facial fractures after being struck by a batted ball. He has a low-90s heater that can tick up to 95 mph when needed. Johnson mixes in a curve and change-up. Command isn't at a high level just yet. He'll need to work on honing his arsenal and developing a level of consistency with each. As he moves along in the coming years, staying in shape will be key. His body type can blow up if he's not attentive to his fitness. He'll be building his innings up at Low-A Greenville, working on all of his pitches and locating down in the zone. Johnson can have success at the lower levels; whether he maintains a path as a starter is something we'll find out when he reaches the higher levels.
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Pulled after 1.1 innings
PBoston Red Sox
September 2, 2018
Johnson (4-4) allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out two across 1.1 innings as he was saddled with the loss Sunday against the White Sox.
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Chased early again
PBoston Red Sox
August 28, 2018
Johnson gave up one run on five hits and one walk while striking out three over 4.1 innings Tuesday against the Marlins. He did not factor in the decision.
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Lasts 4.1 innings in no-decision
PBoston Red Sox
August 22, 2018
Johnson allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out three over 4.1 innings in Wednesday's win over the Indians. He did not factor into the decision.
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Overcomes first-inning trauma
PBoston Red Sox
August 17, 2018
Johnson (4-3) allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two over 5.2 innings to pick up the win in Friday's 7-3 victory over the Rays.
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Set to start Friday
PBoston Red Sox
August 12, 2018
Johnson will start Friday against the Rays, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports.
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